AN EXHIBITION of First World War artefacts from local collectors and historians to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme is being held on the first floor of Bournemouth Central Library at the Triangle today and tomorrow.

Items include a ‘Death Penny’ awarded to the family of Private Percy Williamson, a soldier of the Northants Regiment who was killed at the Battle of the Somme and the medals of another soldier Private Horace Ham from Bournemouth who survived.

The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest of World War One, with more than one million people killed or wounded. It lasted five months as the British and French Armies fought the Germans on a 15-mile front.

“Private Horace Ham of Alum Chine Road, Bournemouth, was serving with the Middlesex Regiment during the battle” said Jenny Young , Westbourne Library Manager who has been collected First World War memorabilia for four years and has many items in the exhibition.

“After the whistle was blown, the signal to leave the trenches and go into enemy territory, he went out with the rest of his battalion and was hit in the thigh. He was sent back to the casualty clearing station to recover. All his pals were killed. Out of the 800 strong battalion, only a hundred made it back”.

Private Ham survived the war and was awarded the British War Medal, the British Victory Medal and the 1914-15 Star which can be seen at the exhibition along with miniatures of the medals and his cap badge.

Also on display is a bracelet made of nine French coins listing all the major battles of the war with the date they were fought, including Mons 1914, Marne 1914, Ypres 1915 and the Somme 19116, belonging to Harry Gifford from Pokesdown who survived the Great War and died later from his wounds in 1918. He is buried at Bournemouth East Cemetery.

Other items include a triangle ‘On War Service’ women’s badge issued in 1916, a Red Cross nursing cup that would have been used to help the injured, a soldier’s diary, a soldier’s bible, A French soldier’s cup found on the battlefield at the Somme, First World War postcards and various items of a soldier’s kit.

The exhibition will then be at Westbourne Library on July 8 where more artefacts will be added and a digitally remastered copy of the original 1916 film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ loaned by the Imperial War Museum will be shown at 5.15pm.